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Ice boat arrested in weekend patrols.

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Ice boat arrested in weekend patrols

Australian Navy and Customs patrol vessels have combined to apprehend three illegal fishing boats over the weekend.

Australian Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said the most recent apprehension, on Saturday evening, was of a sophisticated ice boat north west of the Wessels by Customs boat Roebuck Bay. It had over 300kg of reef fish on board.

"These ice boats are capable of storing fish on board for longer periods, and are far superior to the more common vessels that are used for shark-finning," Senator Macdonald said.

"They are also worth a lot more money, so the arrest and seizure of a vessel of this kind will hurt the owners in the hip pocket and, send a clear message to Indonesia to get out of our waters."

The 12 crew have been taken back to Darwin where they will be interviewed by Australian Fisheries Management Authority officers. Two other vessels were apprehended on Saturday afternoon.

HMAS Fremantle apprehended six crew on board a vessel, which had a small amount of shark fin on board, north of Troughton Island. It has been escorted to Broome.

Customs vessel Roebuck Bay apprehended a boat with eight shark fins on board, north west of the Wessels. The boat and crew are being escorted to Darwin.

There have now been 208 vessels apprehended this year in Australian waters.

Meanwhile, Senator Macdonald visited Karumba in far north Queensland at the weekend, where he was presented with a proposal by the Gulf Fishermen's Association to help with patrols during the four-month spawning season, a time when commercial fishing is prohibited in Australian waters in this area.

"I am willing to investigate whether this proposal could be viable in a bid to use the vessels and expertise of our commercial operators at a time when they are not on the water to give our authorities information as they often do," Senator Macdonald said.

"But I want to make it clear that if there is a way to make this proposal work, it would have to involve professional Fisheries and Customs officers being on board these fishing boats."

DAFF05/219M 7November 2005

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald’s office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483

© Commonwealth of Australia 2002-2005 | Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry | Other DAFF Ministers | Prime Minister